Movie Review: “Cosmopolis”- A Smart Film that Missed the Mark

Written by David Greenberg June 27, 2012


As Hollywood unrelentingly churns out films consisting of inane subject matter, meaningless plotlines, and superficial characters. David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don Delillo’s “Cosmopolis” was welcomed (at least by me) as solace from the usual shit that comes out of the studios in Los Angeles.  I have always been a fan of Cronenberg’s dark verging on grotesque style and was intrigued to see how Robert Pattinson’s clean-cut look would blend with Cronenberg’s graphic penchant.  Unfortunately, what developed was an incoherent, overly indulgent film that, although seemingly thought provoking, left me confused and unfulfilled when the credits began to roll.

A bit too blunt

I am an avid fan of films that carry with them meaningful subtext and hidden messages.  Furthermore, I walked into “Cosmopolis” expecting to have to think about the film upon its conclusion.  However, “Cosmopolis” revels in its anti-capitalistic sentiment to such a degree that it cannot contain itself and leaves the viewer with little margin for interpretation.  Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) is a financial mogul who, ignoring the warnings of his bodyguard, Torval (Kevin Durand), wants to go to his preferred barber across town for a haircut.   Set in the foreseeable future, the film takes place in a protest-filled New York City.  Although vaguely explained, the upheaval that has taken New York by storm seems to target America’s obsession with capital and wealth.  Furthermore, Eric Packer has just lost a significant portion of his wealth due his failure to predict the success of a fictional currency.  To make matters worse an unknown assailant is hunting Packer.

Too much talk and no walk

There are some books that were meant to be adapted into films and there are some that were not.  Although the dialogue in “Cosmopolis” was fast-paced, cynical and highly intellectual, it is hard to believe that someone would ever talk in that fashion.  The dialogue in “Cosmopolis” feels so unnatural that it was almost annoying.  I must submit that there were streaks of genius in the dialogue, however, because there was such little action and movement in the film, the dialogue was the tent pole that held “Cosmopolis” up.  What “Cosmopolis” lacks most is its potential for drama.  Ninety-percent of the movie takes place in a limousine.  I must say, however, that the limousine perfectly resembled the austere, cold and clean image that Cronenberg implemented in his film.  The main issue with this is that the film felt extremely claustrophobic.  The ubiquity of claustrophobia did not allow the characters to develop fully in order for the audience to be able to appreciate them.

Pattinson to the rescue?

Regardless of his unfortunate involvement in the “Twilight” series, Robert Pattinson is a fine young actor.  Furthermore, he was not half bad in “Cosmopolis.”  He is good looking, he exudes intelligence, and he conveys the cynicism required of his character.  I would have loved to have seen his character in more action and to, at least, get a glimpse of his character’s sensitivities.  With more development, Pattinson’s performance could have been elevated from a “solid” to a “great.”


“Cosmopolis” is by no means the film of the year.  Although it is an intelligent film, it is far from genius.  It is miles from subtle and lacks in dramatic potential.  In order to not spoil the film, I will say that the film’s finale was its best part.  Yet, I was left empty at the end.

My Rating: 6/10

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